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Coming out of hospital: things to think about before getting discharged

Coming out of hospital: things to think about before getting discharged
Date published: 13 September 2022 Author: Izzi Parsonage Categories:

When you spend time in hospital after an illness or injury, you may find yourself focusing on getting well enough to get back home. But try not to be in too much of a rush. Your healthcare team will let you know when they think you’re ready. And if you’re facing a period of rehabilitation or recovery after discharge, you’ll need to conserve your energy.

It’s important to make sure you’re prepared and know how you and your loved ones will manage your ongoing care arrangements. That way you can spend your time and efforts on your own health and wellbeing. Although there’s no need to worry, it’s important not to underestimate the number of things you’ll need to think about.  

Practical needs

Towards the end of your time in hospital, your medical team will develop a discharge plan for you to work towards. Life outside of the hospital may be very different to what you have become used to. Tasks such as cooking, cleaning and looking after pets will be your responsibility again, and you’ll need to be able to look after yourself both medically and in terms of personal care. 

The discharge policy of each ward may be different, but will likely include a discharge assessment to work out whether you’ll need ongoing health care once you leave hospital, and what type of care that might be.

Will you need special equipment or a mobility aid like a wheelchair? And if so, will you be able to get around your home or the place you’ll be staying? If stairs are likely to be a problem, could you perhaps get a bed moved downstairs for a little while? Or longer term, could a stair lift be an option?

Of course, these are initial logistics challenges but there are day-to-day tasks that will need to be taken care of too.  Cleaning, feeding and looking after pets, for example, and making sure you eat regular and nutritious food. 

Medical needs

Before you leave, hospital staff will want to make sure you have arrangements in place to continue any medical care you need. You may require regular injections – like anticoagulants to reduce the risk of blood clots after surgery or joint replacement. You may need to take medication, or need dressings changed every couple of days. If this is the case, you will either need to learn how to do these things yourself, ask loved ones to help, or arrange for nursing care in your home.

Your hospital care team should arrange for any medical supplies you need in the short term, but you’ll need to make sure you have someone who can collect more if and when they are required in the future. You may also need to arrange transport to get you to and from ongoing medical appointments and check ups.

If you arrange for care home accommodation or a care agency to support you after hospital discharge, it is they who will complete a care assessment and produce a care plan. They’ll do this in liaison with you, your healthcare providers and loved ones to make sure nothing is missed.

Emotional needs

Of course, coming out of hospital is an emotional time as life won’t feel quite the same as before, either in the short term or more permanently. There will be a period of adjustment as you get used to your new normal and begin to accept having to rely on others for help with some things.

Depending on the reason for your hospital stay, you might be worried about managing symptoms or dealing with side effects of medications without a healthcare team on hand. Making sure you have emotional support in place in the form of family or friends, and knowing who to turn to with any questions or concerns can help put your mind at rest.

And it’s important to make sure you don’t allow yourself to become lonely or isolated if you are not able to go out as easily or confidently as you could before. At Promedica, we believe that companionship is as important as practical support and our carers will go out of their way to spend quality time with you sharing cups of tea, conversations and fun activities.

Palliative care

If you received a terminal diagnosis while you were in the hospital, you will be discharged into end of life care . The aim of this type of care is to manage pain relief, reduce uncomfortable symptoms, and to help and support you to enjoy as much quality of life and time with loved ones as possible.

You will need to make a decision about whether you wish to receive palliative care at home or in a hospice and it’s important you are as honest and open as possible about your wishes for your care at this time.

The transition into palliative care can be an incredibly difficult time, but handled sensitively, and with a care plan that really takes notice of your wishes as well as those of the people around them, can make a big difference to the way you spend your last weeks and months. 

 

What are the options? 

When it comes to making decisions about care, there are plenty of different options. Perhaps family and friends are able to give you some level of support, or perhaps they’re busy with their own family life. Either way, you may feel you prefer to rely on paid professional support. 

If that’s the case, you will need to decide between remaining in your own home or moving into a residential home either longer term, or on a temporary or respite, basis. If your preference is to stay in your own home you will have the choice between visiting care and live-in care. Both have pros and cons and the level of care you need will depend on your situation and the prognosis for your illness or rehabilitation from injury. 

If you have spent time in hospital, it’s common to have difficulties after discharge. Whatever type or level of care you choose, it’s important that you allow the right people to be there for you. We know it can be difficult to accept help but, by doing so, you’ll give yourself the best chance of recovery or quality of life. 

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